Spit-Powered Fuel Cells Could Power Your Implanted Chip

April 3, 2014 | Andy Cush

Say you want to implant a chip to monitor your blood sugar level, or check some other bodily function. It could make keeping track of your body much more convenient than it would be with an external devices, seamlessly sending information to your computer or phone as often as you’d like. But how do you power it?

According to a group of engineers at Penn State, you might use spit. A fuel cell developed by Bruce E. Logan, Justine E. Mink, and others runs on saliva, producing a charge when bacteria break down the organic matter in your spit. “By producing nearly 1 microwatt in power, this saliva-powered, micro-sized MFC already generates enough power to be directly used as an energy harvester in microelectronic applications,” the team wrote in a study published in the journal Asia Materials.

Apparently, the idea came to Mink while thinking about monitoring glucose in blood. Another potential use: predicting ovulation. Physorg explans:

One possible application would be a tiny ovulation predictor based on the conductivity of a woman’s saliva, which changes five days before ovulation. The device would measure the conductivity of the saliva and then use the saliva for power to send the reading to a nearby cell phone.

No word yet on net art RFID chips.

(Photo: @Sam Fox Photography)